While Arizona State University faculty members are eagerly signing petitions and condemning university police for body-slamming one of the professors in May, university officials appear to be treading much more lightly in their approach to the situation.
While the incident happened earlier this year, video footage of the professor’s arrest has only recently surfaced.
On Monday, faculty members launched a petition for Dr. Ersula Ore, an English professor at ASU, who was body-slammed after university police questioned her for jaywalking on campus.
According to Inside Higher Ed, jaywalking on one particular street on campus is the norm for both professors and students, which sparked accusations that Ore was stopped there because she was an African-American woman.
Ore was questioned by authorities and asked for identification, which she refused to provide.
The verbal confrontation with officers escalated quickly and it wasn’t long before the officer slammed Ore across the hood of his car and later slammed her on the ground. The police officer’s dashboard camera captured the entire incident.
Ore has been charged with resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer.
The university released a statement about the incident to a local news station, but some felt it did not show adequate support for Ore.
“Arizona State University authorities have reviewed the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the arrest of assistant professor Ersula Ore and have found that the officer involved did not violate protocol and no evidence was found of racial motivation by the ASU Police Department officers involved,” the statement released by ASU read.
The statement said that the ASU police department is “enlisting an outside law-enforcement agency” to take a closer look at the incident and determine whether excessive force was used during the confrontation.
The statement also explained that police questioned Ore because they nearly hit her when they turned on the street.
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To Ore’s supporters the statement appeared unsupportive and sparked concern that the university was not backing her during the ordeal.
The statement also did not address the police officer’s behavior, which some faculty members believed was rude and inappropriate.
The university’s provost sent out an email on Monday that showed much more support for Ore and openly condemned officers for what the faculty members considered to be a poor handling of the situation.
“I am also sure that those of you who observed the video and audio recordings of the incident were equally shocked and disappointed that this took place in our community,” university provost Rob Page wrote in the email to the university’s faculty and staff. “We ended up with an outcome no one wanted and should never have happened…The university remains supportive of [Ore]. The entire matter is being reviewed and a further statement from ASU is forthcoming.”
But spokeswoman for ASU, Sharon Keeler, said she is unaware of any “forthcoming” statements from the university.
She did, however, explain that while the university’s statement was “fact-based,” she did not believe it showed a lack of support for Ore.
“The university has never really not supported this professor,” she said.
In a statement to Inside Higher Ed, she also claimed that the different tones in the university’s statement and Provost Page’s email did not mean the messages conflicted.
“These are two separate pieces of communication to two different audiences,” she said. “They in no way conflict with each other.”